The New WKRP in Cincinnati
|The New WKRP in Cincinnati|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||47 (list of episodes)|
|Running time||30 minutes|
|Production company(s)||MTM Enterprises|
|Original release||September 14, 1991 – May 1, 1993|
|Preceded by||WKRP in Cincinnati|
The New WKRP in Cincinnati is an American sitcom that aired in first-run syndication from September 14, 1991, to May 1, 1993, as a sequel to the original CBS sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati (1978–82). As with the original WKRP, MTM Enterprises produced the show.
Gordon Jump (Arthur Carlson), Frank Bonner (Herb Tarlek), and Richard Sanders (Les Nessman) reprised their roles from the original show, while Howard Hesseman reprised the role of Dr. Johnny Fever on a recurring basis (four episodes in the first season, then five in season two). Other original cast members came in for guest spots, with Loni Anderson (Jennifer Marlowe) returning for two episodes and Tim Reid (D.J. Gordon Sims/Venus Flytrap) for one episode. Other recurring players from the original series who appeared as guests on this sequel show included Carol Bruce (Lillian "Mama" Carlson), Edie McClurg (Lucille Tarlek), Allyn Ann McLerie (Carmen Carlson) and Bill Dial (Bucky Dornster).
The week before the show's premiere, many stations carrying the program aired the hour-long WKRP in Cincinnati 50th Anniversary Special, centered on a newspaper reporter interviewing Arthur Carlson about the fictitious station's golden anniversary, which served as a setup to show clips of memorable moments from the original series. The series has gained a minor cult following but has yet to receive a DVD release.
The New WKRP in Cincinnati revisits radio station WKRP, a station that had slowly climbed from near-last in the ratings to a top-10 station over the course of the original series under program director Andy Travis (unseen in this series), who was last seen drunk and collapsed on the floor of owner Lillian "Mama" Carlson (Carol Bruce) about to tell her off at the previous series end. With Travis gone, the station soon lapses into a dysfunctional, poorly performing laughingstock (one of Travis's successors, the also unseen Steve "The Savage" DeMarco, committed a major FCC violation immediately before the new series began) under Carlson's son, the indecisive general manager Arthur Carlson (Gordon Jump). Almost all of the staff at the station has left, with only two longtime employees, boorish sales manager Herb Tarlek (Frank Bonner) and comically inept news director Les Nessman (Richard Sanders), remaining.
Nine years after the original series ended, with the station's 50th anniversary approaching, Mr. Carlson hires new program director Donovan Aderhold (Mykelti Williamson) to help turn the station around. Already at the station when Donovan arrives are DJs "the Morning Maniacs" Jack Allen (Michael Des Barres) and Dana Burns (Kathleen Garrett), a couple in the throes of divorce who nevertheless work as a team on-air. Donovan soon also hires sexy night-time DJ Mona Loveland (Tawny Kitaen). Off the air, other staff members initially included traffic/continuity co-ordinator Claire Hartline (Hope Alexander-Willis); sporadically seen engineer Buddy Dornster (John Chapell); receptionist Ronnie Lee (Wendy Davis); and, after a few episodes, assistant sales manager Arthur Carlson, Jr. (Lightfield Lewis).
The show underwent many cast changes during its run, eventually dropping or replacing most of the initial "new" cast. Partway through the first season, the characters of Dana Burns and Ronnie Lee were written out. Ronnie's replacement as receptionist was spacey blonde Nancy Braithwaite (Marla Rubinoff). Dana's character was not replaced.
After the first season, more characters were dropped: Claire Hartline, Jack Allen and Arthur Carlson, Jr. all disappeared. French Stewart joined the cast in the second season as morning DJ Razor D.
Dr. Johnny Fever (Howard Hesseman) made a few appearances as a guest in season 1, and participated in a four-episode story arc as WKRP's overnight DJ in season 2, although he left the station (and the series) before the season ended. Mona Loveland was quietly written out towards the end of season 2, and does not appear in the last five episodes. Donovan Aderhold quit the station in the next-to-last episode, and was seemingly killed off in a plane crash at the episode's conclusion. Donovan does not appear and is not mentioned in the series finale.
A number of cast members from both old and new series wrote and directed episodes of the series. Howard Hesseman, in addition to appearing in nine episodes, directed two others in which he did not appear. Bill Dial wrote or co-wrote 13 episodes of the series, while Richard Sanders co-wrote three episodes with his wife. Frank Bonner directed five episodes, mostly in season 2, and Mykelti Williamson directed one episode. Non-cast members Asaad Kelada and Max Tash combined to direct most of the show's other episodes; among other notable non-cast members in the production staff included Burt Reynolds, Loni Anderson's then-husband, who directed one of Jennifer Marlowe's two appearances in the series in a stunt casting move, and Los Angeles conservative talk radio personality Doug McIntyre, who wrote two episodes.
The show ended production in 1993 after two seasons and 47 episodes. Only the "original three" characters of Mr. Carlson, Herb Tarlek and Les Nessman remain with the program for the entire run and are seen in every episode.
For the first several episodes, the series was still identified as WKRP in Cincinnati and used a nearly identical opening sequence to the original series, except with updated cast names. The New portion was not added to the title until later, when clips of the starring actors were added to the title sequence. The familiar opening and closing themes of its parent series were retained, while a new arrangement/recording was used for the opening theme, the closing theme was the same version heard on the original series (although a bit faster).
The series followed up on some details left unaddressed in the original series. For example, the actual frequency of WKRP was never revealed in the original series. (Promos for the original series had noted, without specifying a frequency, that the station used the highest available frequency on the AM dial (at the time, before the AM expanded band was opened, this was 1600 AM, a frequency unused in southern Ohio until 1995.) In this version, the station is identified as being at 1530 AM, the actual home of WCKY, also licensed to Cincinnati, though the actual 1530 AM is a 50,000-watt class A clear channel frequency, while WKRP's coverage map promoted the station as a 5,000-watt station of unknown class (with the exception of the original series pilot, in which the station was also at 50,000 watts).
Also addressed is why the station is in the same position as the first series. The original series was supposed to conclude with everyone's hard work paying off and the station reaching number six.
|Gordon Jump||Arthur Carlson
|The middle-aged general manager, whose main qualification for the job is that his business tycoon mother is the owner. His bumbling, indecisive management is one of the main reasons the station is unprofitable, although he is a decent man and something of a father-figure to his employees.|
|Frank Bonner||Herb Tarlek||Boorish, tasteless advertising sales manager, who wears loud plaid suits, with his belt matching his white shoes. While Herb is portrayed as buffoonish most of the time, he does occasionally show a sympathetic side, particularly towards Art Jr., whom he feels he needs to protect though there's no love lost between the two.|
|Richard Sanders||Les Nessman||Fastidious, bow-tied news reporter, who approaches his job with absurd seriousness. In between the original series and the revival, Les married and divorced a woman named Demi, an unseen character who still looms large in his life. Les is also now an eight-time winner of the "Buckeye Newshawk Award", up from five during the original series.|
|Mykelti Williamson||Donovan Aderhold||The station's new program director, Aderhold fills the same position held by Andy Travis, who had left the station some time after the end of the original series. He has also worked with former WKRP morning DJ Dr. Johnny Fever at a radio station in Pittsburgh. Near the end of the series, he falls in love and, pursuing his new flame, leaves the station; when he attempts to return in the penultimate episode, his plane disappears, with his fate never resolved.|
|Hope Alexander-Willis||Claire Hartline||The station's traffic and continuity director, who is kind and levelheaded, and one of the few competent employees at the station. Claire disappears without comment or explanation at the end of season 1, and the character is never referenced again (and her job position at the station is not replaced)|
|Howard Hesseman||Dr. Johnny Fever
(ne Johnny Caravella)
|Former WKRP morning man who often drops by the station between jobs in various cities. (As Herb complains, "He only shows up here when he's broke!") Partway through the second season, the station's never-seen overnight jock (Moss Steiger, carrying over from the original series) dies, and Johnny is hired to take over the WKRP night shift, billing himself as "The Night Doctor". After a run of several episodes, he leaves the station to pursue a sitcom opportunity in LA. Though it doesn't pan out, Johnny decides to stay in LA, and the character exits the series.|
|John Chappell||Buddy Dornster||
|The station's hopelessly lazy chief engineer. Buddy is the brother of Bucky Dornster (Bill Dial), who held the same job on the original WKRP, and who appears in a cameo on the revival. John Chappell appeared as Reverend Drinkwater in the "Preacher" episode of the original WKRP.|
|Carol Bruce||Lillian "Mama" Carlson||
|Arthur Carlson's ruthless, domineering mother and the owner of WKRP.|
|Michael Des Barres||Jack Allen||One-half of WKRP's morning team, "Burns & Allen, the Morning Manaics". Jack's marriage to broadcasting partner Dana Burns is extremely volatile; the two are perpetually on the brink of divorce and constantly spar verbally both on the air and off. Dana does in fact leave Jack partway through season one, and Jack continues at the station as a solo DJ. However, the character stops appearing after the end of season one, and is never referenced again. Des Barres appeared in one episode of the original series as "Dog" of the band "Scum Of The Earth".|
|Kathleen Garrett||Dana Burns||The other half of the "Burns & Allen" morning team, who is both sharp-tongued and feisty. Garret left the series about half-way through the first season, and her character was written out -- but she still appeared in the opening credits of every first season episode.|
|Wendy Davis||Ronnie Lee||
|The quiet-but-friendly, and efficient receptionist. A fairly minor character, she leaves partway through season 1 to get her masters degree.|
|Tawny Kitaen||Mona Loveland||The station's new nighttime DJ, hired by Aderhold, she joins the cast a few episodes in. Beautiful and talented, Mona is also exceptionally intelligent, much like Jennifer Marlowe in the original series. Kitaen left the series before the end of season 2, but is credited in the final five episodes despite her character having been written out.|
|Katherine Moffatt||Edna Grinbody||
|Head of the Cincinnati League Of Decency (CLOD), and an occasional complaintant about the station's on-air practices. Often manipulated into serving the station's interests, due to her infatuation with Johnny.|
|Lightfield Lewis||Arthur Carlson, Jr.||Obnoxious, spoiled, proto-yuppie who is brought into WKRP as the new assistant sales manager working under Herb. (Although as he reminds everybody, his grandmother owns the station, so he expects to be moving up the ladder quickly.) Brought in a few episodes into the run, Art Jr. was written out after season 1, though still occasionally referenced. The character was played -- as a child -- in one episode of the original WKRP by Sparky Marcus.|
|Marla Jeanette Rubinoff||Nancy Braithwaite||Nancy is initially seen in a single episode as an attractive, though somewhat ditzy ad rep who is unaccountably lustful for Herb Tarlek. After Ronnie leaves WKRP, Nancy successfully schemes to get Ronnie's old job, mostly so she can continue to try seducing "Herbie". Although initially a recurring player, actress Rubinoff quickly worked her way up to a co-starring role in the opening credits.|
|French Stewart||Razor D||The new morning DJ as of season 2. An eccentric former monk, Razor has almost no radio experience to speak of, but has strong natural talent.|
|Season||Episodes||First aired||Last aired|
|1||24||September 7, 1991||May 16, 1992|
|2||23||September 5, 1992||May 22, 1993|
Several critics of the show railed against the thought of continuing the original series, and it premiered to a mix of positive and negative reviews. Among the negative reviews from broadcast professionals was the charge that the station, broadcasting on the AM band, was still playing Rock 'n Roll music in the early 1990s, long after FM was established as the industry's leading band.
The series, contrary to the belief of some, was not canceled due to large monetary losses. Despite the challenges of syndication, which included varying airtimes (sometimes late at night) in various markets, the series was able to operate in the black, but not producing a profit substantial enough for investors to back it financially.